Exclusive access to Rolls-Royce’s first EV ahead of its 2023 launch reveals interesting details.
The Rolls-Royce Spectre will be positioned as the spiritual successor to the Phantom coupe in the luxury marque’s range when the new electric model goes on sale at the end of 2023.
The engineering parameters for the Spectre are now being set as Rolls-Royce begins the almost two-year testing programme, which Automotive Daily’s partner Autocar has been granted unprecedented early access to as the car undergoes winter testing near the Arctic Circle at the start of its development.
This included an early ride in a development mule, just the sixth Spectre development car to have been created.
The positioning of the Spectre within Rolls’ range has now become clear, too, beyond simply being ‘the electric Rolls-Royce’. The company has decided against replacements for the Wraith coupé and Dawn convertible. No more orders are being taken for the pair, and the last cars will be built in early 2023.
As a result, Rolls-Royce has made space for the Spectre to fulfil the role of a two-door model in the range, albeit at a larger size than either the Wraith or Dawn and more in line with the 5.6m-long Phantom coupé that was withdrawn from sale in 2016.
Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös said it was important that the Spectre had a role simply beyond being an electric car. He added that, while technically possible, simply making one of its existing models electric was never seriously considered as this would not add as much to the brand as a bespoke bodystyle would. “It is first a Rolls-Royce, and then it is electric,” he said.
The positioning of the firm’s Architecture of Luxury modular aluminium spaceframe but beyond that it is a very different proposition from the Phantom, Ghost and Cullinan models that also use the platform. Sited between the axles is a 700kg battery pack, a joint development between Rolls-Royce and parent firm BMW that uses cobalt and lithium mined from certified sources in Australia and Morocco. Beyond the weight of the battery, no other technical details of the model have yet been confirmed.
However, Rolls-Royce director of engineering Mihiar Ayoubi offered lots of insight into the wider technical development of the Spectre and its early progress. The battery, for example, plays a key role in the overall package. It is completely flat underneath to allow for a smooth floor to improve aerodynamic efficiency. The battery’s mounting also enables better weight distribution front to rear for improved ride comfort and handling, and a low centre of gravity. In addition, it has acoustic benefits, allowing Rolls-Royce to use less than the 120kg of soundproofing found in the Phantom.
Rolls-Royce has confirmed that the car will ride on 23-inch wheels in production, the largest fitted to a coupé since the 1926 Bugatti Royale, and that it will adopt a twin-motor set-up with one sited on each axle for four-wheel drive.
Familiar chassis technology from other Rolls-Royce models, including the rear-wheel steering and active anti-roll systems, are carried over, too. In terms of styling, the split headlight design of the Phantom Coupé will return on the Spectre.
Ayoubi said the initial development at the firm’s test site in Arjeplog, Sweden, was to first ensure the prototypes function as expected and then set the parameters for the tests to come. “The car has only just learned to walk,” he said.
In this early development (the Spectre mule we saw was just 25 per cent representative of a finished production example), The new Spectre will have a 700kg battery mounted in a flat floor much of the work is ensuring the basic components – such as the windows, doors, heating and cooling, and rubber seals – work as they should in an extreme environment. But “as silence is luxury”, said Ayoubi, “they need to not only perform in these conditions but perform silently”.